The Best from the Archive Collection
Hong Kong cinema has a rich and eventful history and it is the Hong Kong Film Archive’s mission to not only preserve its heritage but also share it with the public through our programs.
The Film Archive has acquired more than 9,000 titles in our brief tenure. On the occasion of our 10th anniversary, we are presenting 25 films that represent the best of our collection. All of them are marked by a certain level of aesthetic accomplishment and are addressing issues important to their immediate audience. These films are documents of their times as well as timeless works of art.
In the past ten years, our programs have slanted towards the less recent, largely because we were – and still are – eager to focus on the neglected, the less familiar and the long lost. In the same spirit, the films in this program are chosen from the pre-gong chan pin era, a time when Hong Kong films were not identified as such but as either Mandarin films or Cantonese films. The gong chan pin (meaning, literally, Hong Kong-made films) era thus refers to the period after Cantonese became the primary language of Hong Kong cinema, signifying the establishment of a local identity separate from that of China. The cut-off date is in dispute but we are subscribing to the use of the film The House of 72 Tenants (1973) as the milestone that began the era. In other words, the 25 titles in this program are chosen from a time when Hong Kong cinema included both Cantonese and Mandarin films.
Many films that fit the description are unfortunately not included in the lineup. We’re not screening films that are dubbed into dialects other than the originally intended. The Film Archive has shown films that are dubbed in the past, but as parts of thematic retrospectives which would benefit from their inclusion, imperfect though they are. For this program, it is our wish that the audience can enjoy the films as much as they were intended.
Films that have been screened recently or those that will be shown immediately following this program are also not included, such as the works of Cathay and Sun Luen, subjects of our last two presentations, as well as those of Union Film, the focus of our next retrospective.
The Hong Kong film industry is one of the most prolific in world history. We might have made a lot of mediocre films but we have also produced a fair share of good ones. The titles presented in this program constitute only a small fraction of those, but it is our token to share the best of what we have with the world.